Pikes Peak is one of the most famous mountains in the United States and the most visited summit with half a million visitors every year. Some think it is the tallest mountain in the United States, or at least in Colorado. In reality, it is the 31st tallest in Colorado. Because of its height and location on the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains, you can look out over the plains to Kansas. No taller mountains are anywhere nearby so Pikes Peak has a commanding view in every direction. The upper mountain is a National Historic Landmark so this is more than just another summit drive. There are several ways to get up. You can hike the Burr Trail up, drive the Pikes Peak Highway or take the Pikes Peak Cog Railway. I was traveling around Colorado with my two young kids so we chose the obvious route…by road.
As we were driving up, we were passed my numerous emergency vehicles, most search and rescue personal. Near tree line, the park officials suddenly decided to close the road about 2/3 the way up at Glen Cove. Rumor had it that someone had driven off the road and a rescue operation was in place. As we sat and waited for 3 hours for the road to open, more and more emergency vehicles were allowed up including the local media. It got late and was becoming apparent that the road was not going to open back up that day. We got our IOU from the guard (the bone heads wouldn't even give us our $10 refund) and headed back down the mountain. I was determined to get up the peak, so we camped nearby and headed back up the next morning. Turns out, some teenager who just broke up with his girlfriend, drove up to commit suicide by driving off the top 1,000 feet into the “Bottomless Pit”. It took rescuers 8 hours but they got him back up to the summit and a helicopter took him to the hospital where somehow he survived.
On the summit, you will find a massive parking area, the cog railway station (highest in the world), a restaurant, and a gift shop. The air is thin, the views are excellent and the crowd watching is quite entertaining. You would think some were on Everest the way they are panting around from their car to the gift shop.
The Cog railway at the summit
Looking East to Colorado Springs
Summit shot, had to get in line for this one!
The road is still dirt where it's not as dangerous, most of the road is now paved
www.WillhiteWeb.com: Hiking, Climbing and Travel
Summit Elevation: 14,110 feet
Access rating: Level 1
Pikes Peak from Rampart Range Road
Parked at Glen Cove waiting for the road to open
The road above Glen Cove
Easy paved road
Only 77 miles from downtown Denver and 6 miles from downtown Colorado Springs, this is a must see attraction for this area. Both the 19-mile Pikes Peak Highway and the 9 mile Cog Railway are open year round weather permitting. The fee for the Highway is $10 per person, and $5 per child ages 6-15 (max car cost $35). The cog railway is $30+ for adults and almost $20 for children three and over. The Barr Trail has an elevation gain of 7,400 feet over 13 miles, starts in Manitou Springs right at the base of the mountain. Hiking is free! Can you believe in 1929, a guy pushed a peanut to the summit with his nose over the course of three weeks!
Views from the summit
The Cog railway at the summit